Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume 82, December 2012

As we find ourselves at our last newsletter of 2012 and nearly at the end of another trip around the sun, I want to take a few moments to thank all of you for taking the time to read my stuff!  2012 has been FANTASTIC year, thanks to all of you!

I had the honor this year of completing 53 projects for 22 clients in 13 different industries and in four different countries.  I also was privileged to work with five charity organizations.   My projects were a good mix of presentations, with both the Dazzling Blue and Repeatable Successful Acts (which was updated in March) strategic platforms taking center stage.  My educational offerings were driven around both the communication and thinking platforms.  Presentation skills and Interpersonal communications are now key elements in four corporate learning programs.  I was honored to help design complete Leadership and Learning Institutes for internal training for four of my clients.  On the application, or consulting, side of the business, I launched internal projects including One Level Above (moving key strategic and organizational strategies one significant step at a time), sales ideas, cultural design, story creation and development, and creating IDEA ACADEMIES.  WOW, what a marvelous, stimulating, incredible year!


Of course, the year is not officially over, and November was filled with projects that had me in Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  December will take me back to Dallas and on to Atlanta as clients hit the ground running with the turn of the calendar page to 2013.

I need to take a few moments to thank my team members who play critical and instrumental roles in all I do:

Dr. Jim Hengstenberg:  One of my closest advisors and friends, Jim is the key thinker that makes many of my ideas the solid strategies they become.  He is the editor of much that I write and has this incredible power to make me sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Chris Ryan:  My ueber-agent, whose work continues to open doors into industries I would never have thought would become my clients.  He is a good friend and sounding board for myriad business opportunities and continues to teach me that saying “no” is sometimes a good idea.

John Peterson:  Webmaster extraordinaire!  John’s brand new web site design, which debuted in October, (  has received rave reviews.  His work on my newsletter and web updates has given a new life to my online identity.  He is a true design master.

Group Thinking
Happy Holidays

Above these fine folks is my lovely bride Laura, who continues to tolerate about 47 weeks of travel and the odd hours of my sleepless physiology.  She handled everything on the big move to Austin while I was on planes and in hotels.  Thanks, Babe!

It’s hard for me to explain how excited I am about 2013 as my calendar is filled with projects and opportunities.  Thank you…and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and I’ll visit with you next year!


The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.

[Oliver Wendell Holmes]

2013 will mark the release of the latest Creative Ventures strategic platform, THE IDEA FACTORY.  Despite a couple of “beta” runs for clients who didn’t want to wait, the program will not be in its final form until January.  THE IDEA FACTORY is about not only the development and nurturing of ideas, but specifically about the environments that create opportunity around ideas.

Thoughtful Crops

Here are a few key content points from THE IDEA FACTORY:

A CULTURAL MIX:  Not so surprising, the “where” of ideas is a critical element in their successful development.  It’s not so much the “where” as in geography, but the “where” as in cultural and organizational conditions.  In Athens between 400 – 380 BCE there were an astonishing number of idea geniuses.  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles, Euripides and Sophocles were just a few.  Florence between 1450 – 1490 was home to Michelangelo, DaVinci, Donatello, and Botticelli.  The cultural mix in these areas allowed the freedom of creativity that saw new ideas develop at a staggering rate.  What type of environment do you need to create in YOUR company to allow the free creative flow of ideas?  What can you do to encourage thinking by the very people who are expected to think?  Are there venues for the discussion of ideas, for the vetting and critical analysis of ideas?  If you don’t have a culture that includes answers to these questions, you better get started, because without it, the chance of developing something new and impactful is unnecessarily limited.
COME TOGETHER:  The University of Michigan recently published an interesting paper on the architecture of strategy development.  It found that companies that create facilities and focused opportunities around “physical interaction” show the “highest emergence of ideas.”  Even casual and idle conversations that develop at meetings create germination points for new thinking.  Human friction can create sparks, and the best way to do it, despite the economic resources needed, is to do it in the flesh.  Look to create in-person interactions around the strategic discipline of discovering something new, something fresh, something that shifts the status quo.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?  OK, OK, I know you have read this here and heard me say it a thousand times, but I CANNOT SAY IT ENOUGH: ideas thrive within a systemic and structured approach to communication.  People want to know what’s going on.  They want to know about motion in relation to the idea.  What’s the finish line?  Is something going to happen?  Add to your idea process a communication plan.  Do it IMMEDIATELY, or condemn to failure your plan to create ideas that make a significant impact.

Team in Circle
Ideas = Money

78% of companies have NO idea system, no place for idea development, no process for the formation and development of anything new.  Oh, new ideas happen, even without a process or system, but it is rare when an idea has a genesis point in such an environment that anyone recognizes it.  How then do CEOs list innovation and transformation as top priorities for the organizations in 2013?

The gift of our human genetic structure makes us idea machines.  Our lack of recognition that the creative process can be designed, developed, implemented and managed continues to be a huge stumbling block in our journey towards the extraordinary.  So, take a look at your strategies for 2013.  If you are missing a piece on idea development, ADD IT.  In a world of commoditized products and homogenized approaches to sales, a new idea just might be precisely what you need to separate and differentiate yourself in this vanilla world!

Lineup of Hot Sauces

THE POWER OF THE RED:  Hot sauce sales have been, well, on fire for nearly a decade.  With an average annual sales growth of 9.5%, hot sauce sales are sizzling.  Demand has been driven by demographic and taste shifts here in American, but the bigger boom has been international, with Canada, the UK, and Japan becoming big players in the importing of American hot and other specialty sauces.  This is not a trend that has peaked.  Projections show continued growth, and grocery stores are opening more shelf space to every type of hot sauce you can think of.  So grab a bottle of Satan’s Blood, Fire In The Hole, or Burn In Hell hot sauce next time you’re in the store.  Everyone else is.


DING DONG, THE DING DONG’S DEAD:  As with many of you I shed a sugar-filled tear to hear that Hostess Brands is closing its doors after 85 years of snack production.  Though not a big Twinkie fan myself (except when deep fried at the Texas State Fair), I will miss the cupcakes.  The news brought out the capitalist in many folks, who snatched up boxes of Hostess treats for resale to a fearful snack- buying public.  A $5 box of Twinkies was getting an asking price of $100 on eBay.  I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over this dismal treat news, as iconic brands are pretty tough to kill, especially ones that generate $2.5 billion in sales a year.

Black Friday

TURKEY DAY SHOPPING BLUES:  I am always amazed at the crowds that hit the shopping arenas of modern commerce at bizarre hours, devoid of sleep, but full of turkey stuffed energy.  This year foot traffic was up 3.5% from 2011, but the sales numbers are difficult to compare this soon.  Why?  Because Thanksgiving came so early this year.  With Turkey Day on the 22nd, retailers picked up two extra shopping days from 2011, when Thanksgiving was on the 26th.  Add the extra two days to the new trend of stores actually opening on Thanksgiving evening instead of midnight before Black Friday, and you have some confusing comparisons.  The good news is that despite the trend shift and calendar boost, it looks like we are going to spend some bucks this holiday season.  To hell with the fiscal cliff, how much did you say that 55” high def TV is?

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at or give him a call at (512) 712-5279.
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Steve Harvill • Office: (512) 712-5279 • Cell: (972) 345-9480
109 Top O The Lake • Lakeway, TX 78734